More than 350 students from Toledo’s Christ the King School on Friday answered Pope Francis’ call to pray for peace in Syria and across the Middle East.
The students, their teachers, and Catholic faithful in the community gathered at the church, 4100 Harvest Lane in West Toledo, for about an hour to pray the rosary for peace in Syria.
“It’s important that we pray for them, even if we’re Americans and they’re Syrians because we’re all people of God,” said 13-year-old Jason Drees, one of several 8th-graders who helped lead the prayer service. “Just because we don’t know them doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for them.”
Pope Francis recently called upon the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the world to join him for a day of prayer for peace in Syria and fasting today.
Tony Caputo, who teaches 6th and 8th-grade math and religion at Christ the King, said the students often gather for Mass, but the prayer service was a special event.
The Pope’s directive was a great opportunity to put into practice the school’s new Leadership and Me program, which emphasizes “putting others before ourselves,” Mr. Caputo said.
Members of the 8th-grade student council led the prayer service, including; young Drees of Toledo, Alex Buehler, 14, Toledo; Gretchen Thomas, 13, Toledo; Ellyn Jarrell, 13, Ottawa Hills; Audrey Chisholm, 14, Sylvania; Michaela Gallup, 13, Toledo; and Garrett Griffey, 14, Toledo.
The Rev. William Rose began the service with a few brief words, reminding students about the power of prayer and the hope that leaders in the Middle East will continue to work for peace. After that, the student leaders took turns reading various Psalms from the Bible and leading their classmates in the rosary.
For some students, the troubles in Syria are personal. Some of their classmates are from Syria, said young Buehler, who noted one of his friends has family there.
Young Jarrell said classwork about the Middle East has made her realize how fortunate she is.
“There’s a civil war going on and there’s a lot of suffering,” she said. “A lot of the children are my age. I’ve been doing a lot of praying for the children; for their well-being.”
The Chisholm and Thomas youths said they believe their prayers will make a difference.
“I believe so, yes," young Chisholm said.
Young Thomas added: “The power of prayer, in my opinion, is all our prayers go to God, and he does the best he can to answer them and to answer our call to him. It’s called faith.”
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